‘Pen is mightier in eighth (O’s win 6-5)

Manager Buck Showalter played the matchup game in the eighth inning with the Orioles clinging to a 6-5 lead.

He won.

Now, the Orioles will try to do the same.

Clay Rapada faced David Ortiz to open the bottom of the eighth and retired him on one pitch, which resulted in a liner to short.

Left-handed hitters are 4-for-43 against Rapada this season and 5-for-62 over the past two seasons. Right-handers are batting .692 this year, so Showalter brought in Pedro Strop to face pinch hitter Ryan Lavarnway.

Strop struck out Lavarnway on three pitches, all sliders, and retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a broken-bat grounder to short. He threw three 95 mph fastballs to Saltalamacchia and put him away with a 96 mph heater.

Strop hasn’t allowed a run in seven appearances with the Orioles covering 6 2/3 innings. He’s given up two hits, walked two and struck out seven.

Update: Jim Johnson retired the side in order in the ninth to complete a 6-5 victory in Game 1. He got the first two outs on three pitches - and received a nice play from J.J. Hardy - and induced a bouncer from Jacoby Ellsbury.

Are we allowed to call Johnson the closer, or do we have to pretend that it’s all about matchups and availability?

He’s the closer.

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